Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, November 11, 2011 at 9:47 AM
Hey, the fallout from Joe Paterno's middle-of-the-week firing at Penn State will continue to completely dominate the air waves - especially at ESPN which might as well start The Paterno Channel - right into this ultra-important College Football weekend but let's concentrate for a few moments here on the action between the white lines and no doubt the Saturday night clash between #7 Oregon at #4 Stanford figures to get folks back to talking about the games themselves ... and think of all the possibilities:
The Stanford Cardinal - a 3 ½-point betting favorite at press time (and that merely means this game is rated dead-even 'cause 3 ½ or 4 points is the standard "home field price" put on major-college football games) along with a "totals" price of 68 ½ points - doesn't figure to move up the BCS Standings here even with a win as #2 Oklahoma State (at Texas Tech) and #3 Alabama (at Miss State) are both very hefty double-digit betting favs for their respective games but a loss absolutely dooms any/all national championship talk for Heisman Trophy frontrunner QB Andrew Luck and Company.
Hey, maybe it seems outlandish to think this way but consider that an Oregon win here in Palo Alto plus three more Pac-12 triumphs the rest of the way (including a win in the first-ever league championship game) combined with a few other fortuitous results from inside the Top 5 could catapult Chip Kelly's crew back into this year's BCS Championship Game.
Are the odds against that happening?
Of course, but are you gonna sit there and tell us - for sure - that five teams above Oregon in the current BCS Standings can't lose somewhere between now and early December?
One final note: The Pac-12 Championship Game to be played on Friday, Dec. 2nd will be held at the higher-seeded team (or the team that won the regular season's head-to-head matchup).
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL KEY SATURDAY PREVIEWS
Now, let's check out some of Saturday's top NCAA Football games with Spread Notes included in the mix (note that all rankings reflect the current BCS Standings):
#7 OREGON (8-1, 6-0 Pac-12) at #4 STANFORD (9-0, 7-0 Pac-12) - 8 p.m. ET, ABC
In case you were wondering, the last time the Stanford Cardinal lost a game was back on Oct. 2, 2010 when these Oregon Ducks swatted 'em 52-31 (Stanford was a 6 ½-point road pup in that clash) and so the 17-game SU (straight-up) winning streak is on the line here for the Palo Alto guys and there's some sentiment to having the Cardinal play a more ball-control passing game here in hopes of keeping Oregon's high-octane offense off the field for long periods of times ... is that the right way to attack the defending than-Pac-10 champs?
No doubt aforementioned Stanford QB Luck (2,424 yards passing with 276 TDs and 5 INTs) is on a major roll with his club having scored 37-or-more points in each/every game this season but you also ain't beating Stanford if you can't slow down or stop RB Stepfan Taylor who has rushed for 891 yards (a 6.1 ypc average) with 8 TDs.
On the flip side, Oregon's spread-option, no-huddle offense can really wear down an enemy's defense and so let's see if the Cardinal can gum up the rushing lanes of RB LaMichael James who has rebounded from recent elbow problems and now heads into this showcase game with 1,061 yards rushing (an 8.0 ypc average) with 9 scores.
Hey, the Ducks average 46 points a game - but Stanford betters that with its 48 ppg average - and rookie head coach David Shaw's Cardinal team works best when Luck's hitting his tight ends who have nabbed 16 of the team's 27 aerial scores in 2011.
Speed advantage goes to Oregon; size/strength advantages go to Stanford.
And like we said: Dead-even game 'cept for the home field, folks!
Spread Notes - Stanford is 8-0-1 ATS (against the spread) and thus the only team in FBS play without a spread loss this year (that's 120 teams in all). The Cardinal is a giddy 17-4 vig-wise at home since the start of the 2008 season. Oregon is 5-4 spreadwise overall this season and the Ducks are an ultra-solid 7-2 vig-wise in their last nine showdowns against Stanford. Did you realize that Oregon's been an underdog side just four times in its last 37 overall games while dating back to late in the 2008 season.
#2 OKLAHOMA STATE (9-0, 6-0 Big 12) at TEXAS TECH (5-4, 2-4 Big 12) - 12 p.m. ET, ABC regional/ESPN3
Question for the Oklahoma State Cowboys ... What, do you think this is some sort of video game you're playing this season?
The nation's second-best scoring offense is averaging an eye-popping 50.1 points per game and who is gonna tell seventh-year head coach Mike Gundy to "cool it" as long as margin of victory is a bigger-than-they-tell-you factor in determining the BCS Standings.
If the Pokes - a hearty 17-point favorite for this Big 12 tilt in Lubbock - can keep up the productivity between QB Brandon Weeden-to-WR Justin Blackmon than the sky's the limit here but how about the nation givin' a little bit of love for RB Joseph Randle (915 yards rushing and 18 TDs) and this almost-perfect offensive line?
Hey, Texas Tech's in a major scoring funk of its own these days with 7- and 20-point outputs in recent back-to-back losses to Iowa State and Texas and might Red Raiders' slinger Seth Doege (3,160 yards passing with 24 TDs and 6 INTs) need his club's ground game to stabilize things here in Stillwater?
Spread Notes - Oklahoma State is a rollicking 7-2 against the odds this '11 season and the Cowpokes are 4-1-1 spreadwise in their last six head-to-head duels with Texas Tech while dating back to the 2005 season. Hey, Okie State's 17-5 ATS overall since the start of last year and that features an 11-3 spread log when playing Big 12 foes ... wow! On the flip side, Texas Tech's 5-4 ATS this season but the Red Raiders are just 7-10 spreadwise in Big 12 play since late in the 2009 season.
#19 NEBRASKA (7-2, 3-2 Big 10) at #12 PENN STATE (8-1, 5-0 Big 10) - 12 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN3
The circus is in town ... and it's been in town all week long in State College (Pa). The over-the-top story that got Joe Paterno - finally - the heave-ho won't be going away anytime soon but let's examine what's gonna happen on the field here with an anxious Nebraska team that's asked for "extra security" and so might Big Red be a tad nervous regarding all the other nonsense here? Bo Pelini's crew - coming off last week's 28-25 home loss to 17 ½-point pup Northwestern - has its own problems including a banged-up defensive line that's terribly thin and couldn't stop a soul against the 'Cats and so let's see if State RB Silas Redd (1,006 yards rushing with 7 TDs and a 5.2 ypc average) can dent the Cornhuskers for some big plays here.
Want an X-factor type in this game?
Let's see if interim Penn State head coach Tom Bradley gets daring - how about some guts on fourth-and-short plays? Let's give old man Paterno something to watch on his living room TV while his wife makes 'em a nice tuna sandwich for lunch!
Spread Notes - Now hear this: Penn State is 2-7 ATS this year and the Nittany Lions are a collective 7-14 vig-wise since the start of last year and that includes a 4-8 ATS mark in Happy Valley. Nebraska's a shaky 3-6 against the Las Vegas price tags this 2011 season but did you know the Cornhuskers are 15-7 ATS away since the start of the 2008 season (that's a .682 winning rate, folks).
WEST VIRGINIA (6-3, 2-2 Big East) at #23 CINCINNATI (7-1, 3-0 Big East) (at Paul Brown Stadium - 12 p.m. ET, ABC regional/ESPN3
The biggest and best game of the weekend in the Big East Conference takes place off campus in the joint the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals call home and so you do wonder if that helps or hinders the UC Bearcats here ... hmmm.
We do know that Cincinnati QB Zach Collaros (1,784 yards passing and another 245 yards rushing) has his club on a real roll with the 'Cats entering this clash on a six-game SU winning streak and last week's get-revenge 26-23 non-cover triumph at 4-point fav Pittsburgh gave Cincy a real shot in the arm.
Meanwhile, West Virginia is in a real put-up or shut-up place here:
First-year boss-man Dana Holgorsen may be considered an offensive whiz but it's his defense that's surrendered 38, 31 and 49 points in its last three games that better step up to the plate here. If WVU needs to have veteran QB Geno Smith (3,125 yards passing with 23 TDs and 5 INTs) to save the day for the road squad here, than how about allowing the guy to crank it up right from the very start?
Hey, the "totals" price here is 66 points ... whew!
Spread Notes - Cincinnati is 5-3 versus the vig overall this season but the Bearcats are a shoddy 1-3-2 ATS in their last half-dozen head-to-head showdowns against rival West Virginia. Note that the WVU Mountaineers are 3-4 against the Vegas prices this year but note they're a slightly profitable 10-7-1 ATS in Big East play dating back to the start of 2009.
Extra, extra: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will be winning big-time this College Football weekend starting with tonight's South Florida at Syracuse clash on espn2 (that's an 8 p.m. ET kickoff) plus there's loads of NFL Week #10 games too and don't forget College Basketball is now in full-speed-ahead mode with games every day/night, so don't miss out on all the round-ball winners too! Just remember to call our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or else go online right here online for the NCAA Football, the NFL and NCAA Basketball.
THURSDAY NITE COLLEGE RE-WIND
The Houston Cougars (10-0) exceeded the speed limit again last night as they rolled up 73 points last night in an easy win/cover for Network's TNT Program (along with Virginia Tech to make it a 2-0 night) at 34-point pup Tulane. The Coogs' 73-17 triumph included three more scoring strikes for Heisman Trophy candidate QB Case Keenum - plus RB Charles Sims darted his way for a career-best 207 ground yards -- and count us among the folks who would like to see a potential Houston versus Alabama or Houston versus Oklahoma/Oklahoma State game come the January bowls .
And did you see one particular stat from last night's Conference USA clash?
Houston scored a total of 10 touchdowns on the night - and only had the ball for 25 minutes!
NOTE: Get our NFL Week 10 Sunday Previews - and that's including the NFC South showdown between the New Orleans Saints at the Atlanta Falcons -- in tomorrow's jam-packed edition of Jim Sez.